Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BOB WARREN, GOD'S FORWARD - A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

Everybody has come across that one person in your life who has made a HUGE difference and even changed the direction of where they were heading. One such person, was prime among the very small group of Godly men who mentored me in Ways of the Lord. The Bible – the pure and powerful Word of God – is an integral part of me, now more than ever. It was not always so until I understood – from that same Bible – what victory Christ actually won for me at the Cross….and not just me, but all mankind for all time.

I would not have understood that victory or where the written proof was, were it not for a man named Bob Warren. Bob is my most unforgettable person in life. When he passed from this world on Monday morning, August 25, 2014 – he left behind a legacy which touched thousands of men, women and young people which most American preachers would give their big salaries for (maybe). The last time I saw Bob a couple or so summers ago, he was asking permission to pour his teachings into my oldest son, who showed an interest during camp and stayed up late for Bob’s late night mega bible studies. That was the kind of man he was. He reached into the inner city and the poorer counties and gave youngsters (boys and girls) a chance a summer camp experience they could never otherwise have .

He deeply affected both my sons’ lives because his BASIC (Brothers And Sisters In Christ)
The last leadership training for Summer Camp at
 Bob Warren's THE HILL, this past July 2014
Training was all about the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible and walking it the Christian life. The sadness I saw in them trumped the deep loss I felt at the passing from the scene, of this hero of the Faith. So who was Bob Warren and why did he mean so much to those who knew him?  The lanky 6 ft. 4 inch athlete from Hardin, KY grew up on his folks hog farm and rose to such prominence in the late 1960’s in the South East Conference (SEC) in basketball, at Vanderbilt University, that he was drafted by both the NBA and the NFL! (Hardin, Kentucky, is just to the east of Paducah and the home of Murray State University). The SEC was well loved at that time, since the New York Jets had scored big with a quarterback named Joe Willie Namath of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Bob turned down the NFL in New York (Giants) and chose the National Basketball Association, where he ended his career with the San Antonio Spurs, current reigning NBA Champs. To those who knew Bob, his stellar basketball career was not his biggest accomplishment in life.  He always talked more about the Lord than the guy he used to be who "put a round piece of leather through a round piece of iron"!! When the Lord Jesus Christ delivered him from the dominion of darkness and saved him, Bob entire life went straight into a whirlwind. At once, it was both his biggest victory and the most critical time of his life. As he told the intimate groups he spoke to, being born-again into the Kingdom of God cost him his marriage. His unsaved and non-believing wife immediately left him and Bob never dated for 25 years after that. The great athlete spent the next quarter century alone, but he was not alone. (He remarried later in life. His wife is Kimberly and his only son is Benjamin).

Bob Warren (1946-2014)
Bob Warren moved back to his dad’s farm after retiring from the NBA and immersed himself in the Word of God. He studied the Bible so much, he wore out a new Bible every two years. Bob knew the Bible so well, the Lord revealed more and more to him which he selflessly shared and passed on to anyone who asked.  I became acquainted with Bob Warren through a good brother in Christ – Bryan McKenzie, who was also our church youth pastor over a decade ago. He was injured while playing for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and completely at a loss about what to do next. Being from Kentucky himself, Bryan sought out Bob who was now well known as the premier Bible teacher of the Bluegrass State!  Bob told him to read the Bible four times and then come back and speak with him. Bryan read it once and went back to Bob.  Thus began an association which then spread to Illinois and hundreds of coaches, high school kids and athletes over the past 15 or so years. McKenzie went on to found the Central Illinois Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) which is now the largest FCA in the state of Illinois.

One year, a long time ago, he handed me a set of cassette tapes of teaching from Romans chapters 1-8, by Bob Warren. Then he told me not to give it back to him until “I got it”. I did not know what that meant…i.e. “got it”. So I listen to the friendly southern preacher Warren explaining every verse of every phrase of eight chapters of Romans. I listened once – did not get it, even though I understood it.  The second time through – I can still remember the moment it hit me! I GOT IT! I got why this Book of Romans was not only the Book that launched the Reformation, but explained my Redemption!  I was free at last, just like Martin Luther! I was saved 13 years before, but I did not understand the Victory until I got through Romans 6 – 8 (twice) and felt myself completely living in the victory! If you think this was good news of the revelation of the Victorious Christian, this same study led a good friend of mine to being born-again just before I had gone through the study.

“PM” grew up in the ritualistic Greek Orthodox tradition and did not Christ as Lord and Savior  - until Bob’s teaching on Romans 1-8 opened his eyes. When he gave that testimony at a men’s breakfast several years ago, there was not a dry eye in the place. These are just a couple of the countless other such testimonies. More and more, Bob’s amazing revolutionary teaching from the Word reformed many, such as the guy who had his light come on while driving and pulled over to the side of the highway after listening to Bob, and knelt by the side of the road to give his life to Christ! My next step was asking myself “what more was I missing”? If I had just gotten the same revelation as Luther, Warren and McKenzie, there had to be more in that Bible – like 64 and ½ books worth more! Sure enough, I discovered Bob had a teaching on how to study the Old Testament!

Like most Christians, we tend to avoid the “Old Testament” as, well, “old”, not knowing that almost ALL the End Times prophesy were delivered from Heaven by the Old Testament prophets! By the time I had spent several weeks almost daily, stopping and playing those old cassettes, I was so familiar with the period of the Kings, their doings and How the Lord moved through human history…I sought out a local Messianic congregation to find out more about Hebrew roots of the Scripture. I am still friends with many in the national messianic Jewish movement, who look to Yeshua as Savior. My hunger and thirst for the Word of God and love for the Savior and Kingdom work, and primarily to connect the dots to such an extent that I can explain it to someone else, is partly the legacy of this great man – Bob Warren….and not just me, but God alone knows how many others!

On learning of the passing of such a great influence and friend in my life, the shock turned to joy once I overcame the grief, knowing that Jesus was giving him the rest and reward he truly deserved. The man who taught kids at his annual weeklong summer camp, the value of not just the Word but application (all kids had to go help a local farmer with his chores or repair projects) was now finally home, in the Abode of the Master.  His last book series, which he never got to finish was called “God’s Heart” and it was on selected topics of the Faith – from predestination to living in Hope. But while he will never finish writing them, he did not really have to – the lives of those whom he influenced and loved to Jesus,  are already living examples of God’s Heart to a perishing world. Thank you, Bob Warren, formerly of Hardin, Kentucky! Walk on, brother – as you always said – walk on in the streets of Gold, where you are now, for all eternity….until we meet again! Amen.

BobWarren’s website: “LIFE ON THE HILL”
Click here to purchase the Life-Changing teaching on Romans 1-8 from Amazon.com

The only known video message from Bob is an amazing testimony to a man whose walk was closer than most! You have to watch this:

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